There is something special about being able to drive straight onto the beach, isn’t there?
For us; the sheer practicality of having everything to hand without having to lug it all on a two mile hike from the car park is a massive positive. But for my boys I suspect it’s the fact that it feels adventurous and a little bit risky that appeals the most. And since we’ve had the van there’s the amazing feeling we get when we open our sliding door straight onto a sandy sea view.
Parking on the beach is the perfect scenario for us, giving us the ability to rustle up food and drinks. Heat affects James’s blood glucose levels and so being able to keep his insulin cool in the fridge on a hot day and having space for us all to cool off in the van is an added bonus too.
We’ve always taken the opportunity to drive onto the beach wherever possible, and now that we have the van I think it will become one of our favourite things to do on both staycations and day trips alike.
So if you want to follow in our tyre tracks, here are five of the best UK drive on beaches:
Black Rock Sands – Porthmadog
Morfa Bychan, known locally as Black Rock Sands might sound forbidding but the reality is mile after mile of beautiful sand, all of which can be driven on for a £5 daily parking charge.
Black Rock Sands, is a sandy beach, with rocky areas – although the rocks aren’t actually black. The beach stretches for just under 3 miles and is backed by a dune system which has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
There are plenty of rockpools, as well as some interesting caves which our boys love to explore. A slipway provides access to the sands and most visitors tend to park on the beach, making it a popular picnic destination. There are both designated bathing and boat launching areas with a lifeguard on duty during peak times.
Backed by the mountains of Snowdonia, Black Rock Sands is a wonderful place to spend a Summer’s day. Dogs are allowed, although there is a dog free zone in the centre of the beach. A friendly ice-cream van regularly drives up and down too.
Postcode: LL49 9YH
Pendine Sands, South Wales
Pendine Sands has long been the site of motor racing, so understandably a ban on vehicles driving onto the sands has now been reversed. The beach has designated areas on which you can drive and park.
Pendine is a sand and shingle beach at the bottom of a cliff top overlooking Carmarthen Bay, and surrounded by hilly countryside. The beach is popular for walking and boating, with excellent views from the cliff tops. Parking on the beach gives you the opportunity of seeing marine wildlife such as seals, dolphins, or even whales out in the surf so remember to take your binoculars!
Postcode: SA33 4NY
This wide expanse of sandy beach lies on the southern side of the mouth of the River Dovey (Afon Dyfi). The beach is backed by an extensive dune system and the Ynyslas National Nature Reserve which features a popular visitor centre. From the beach there are views across the estuary towards Aberdyfi, with a magnificent hilly backdrop in the distance.
Visitors come here to relax and walk amongst the dunes or look for the many interesting shells that can be found along the beach.
A word of caution, swimming here is not advised because of the presence of strong river currents.
There is plenty of space for parking cars within a roped-off part the beach here, in return for a small daily parking fee. An ice-cream van is usually parked in this area to keep you refreshed during the Summer season too.
Postcode: SY24 5JZ
Southport Beach, Lancashire
Southport beach offers motorists the chance to park directly on the sand, for a £10 daily parking ticket although it is only open during the main Summer season in line with the seaside resort itself.
We would not recommend Southport beach for those of you looking for a quiet spot for the day. The noise from the nearby fairground rides and music travels over.
It is however an absolutely great place for a fun day trip with kids though, as all the traditional seaside tourist attractions like the pier, arcades, ice-cream parlours and land train are a stone’s throw away from your parking spot.
The beach can stretch over 2 miles until it gets to the sea at low tide, so there is certainly plenty of golden sand to go around!
The beach is a dog-free zone from May – September.
Postcode: PR9 1RX
Brean Beach, Somerset
The 7 mile stretch of sand and dunes that make up Brean beach lies just over two miles down the coast from Weston-super-Mare. It boasts one of the longest stretches of sand in Europe and at low tide a vast expanse of mud flats are exposed. It is however very dangerous to walk too far out at low tide and there are warning signs about staying away from the mud flats on the beach.
The beach is popular with walkers, dog walkers and beach sport enthusiasts, both on and off the water.
Access to the beach is easy as there is plenty of parking both next to, and on the beach itself in designated areas. Toilets and drinking water are available and there are usually snacks available in the form of visiting ice-cream and burger vans.
Postcode: TA8 2RS
Top tips for beach driving:
Keep out of the sea! Salt water is not good for any vehicle. Driving in the sea will throw salt water everywhere and it will get into every nook and cranny. Plus, vehicle electrics and water do not mix well at any time. It may look a lot of fun, when you make of lots of spray and a splash – but, KEEP OUT of the salt water!
Ok, hopefully you’ve got the message and you promise you’re just going to drive on the beach. It looks nice and flat; it may even look fairly dry! However, it’s still a beach and the tide comes in and out twice a day. That means although it may look dry on the surface, it could well be soggy underneath. If in doubt check on foot before driving onto it.
Read the signs! As mentioned above some beaches have mud flats, rapid tides or unsafe cliffs. Make sure you take notice of any signs before driving onto the beach and check those tide times too.
Also, be prepared to give your vehicle some major TLC the following day. If you have kids I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll be hoovering half of the beach out of it once back home. A good wash and rinse will also wash away any salt residue.
Let me know if I’m missing out on any other fab spots where we can get our tyres sandy!
All images are my own unless otherwise credited and must not be reproduced without permission.